Amino acids are the building blocks of the body. One of these amino acids is the all-important L-carnitine.

While naturally produced by your body, it can be taken as a supplement.

However, there’s so much information out there regarding supplementation and amino acids…

How do you make sense of it all?

Fear not, We have compiled the ultimate guide for the best L-carnitine, complete with the top supplements on the market.

We also cover what L-carnitine does for you, how it works, foods that have it, and how much you should have daily.

For those of you who acts now and asks questions later, here is the rundown of the top L-carnitine supplements out right now:

What is L-Carnitine?

Okay, in the previous section there was a lie.

L-carnitine isn’t technically an amino; rather, it is made from amino acids lysine and methionine.

The reason why it’s called an amino acid or a vitamin is due to its qualities and what it does for the body.

L-carnitine is created in the liver and the kidneys, yet it’s stored in other areas of the body, such as your muscles (especially your heart), your sperm, and your brain.

Because it is made from amino acids, L-carnitine is actually a compound.

Amino acids, if you recall, are the building blocks of the body, turning the protein you ingest and using it to restore or build up your body.

Some aminos help in repairing torn muscle from workouts, while others aid in different processes. L-carnitine falls into this latter category.

What Are The Benefits of L-Carnitine?

  • Increases Endurance
  • Enhances Weight Loss
  • Prevents Muscle Damage
  • Amps Up Fat Burning
  • Boosts Brain Function
  • Regulates Blood Sugar
L-Carnitine benefits

Source: Dr. Axe

How Does L-Carnitine Work In The Body?

At its core, L-carnitine helps produce energy for your body.

Because L-carnitine is created by the two amino acids, it isn’t necessarily required in your diet, unless you have a deficiency.

When stored in the various areas of your body, it is used by your muscles, brain, and sperm as an energy source.

In your body, it escorts “long-chain fatty acids to your cells’ mitochondria, where they produce energy.” Also, this L-carnitine compound takes the toxic byproducts that are results of producing energy out of the cell.

This prevents build-up of waste in the mitochondria and provides a clean process for creating energy.

Think of L-carnitine as a grocery stocker: You come in, take the new product with you, and leave the expired products.

Fresh energy, with zero waste. An efficient vehicle for your body.

Once those long-chain fatty acids are in the mitochondria, they can be oxidized to create ATP (adenosine triphosphate), one of the main energy sources for your body.

It goes off and provides energy for multiple processes in your body.

This process happens both when you’re resting and when you’re exercising; however, “research confirms that it is especially effective during intense exercise.”

What Does L-Carnitine Do For You?

Specifically, L-carnitine can help with a bunch of different conditions, such as congestive heart failure and other heart disorders, leg pain from poor circulation, and high cholesterol issues.

It’s also used for muscle disorders of various kinds, like aiding with AIDS medication, male infertility, anorexia, diabetes, chronic fatigue, ADHD, overactive thyroid, leg ulcers, and Lyme disease.

But probably most importantly to this audience, L-carnitine is used to “improve athletic performance and endurance.”

CrossFit athlete flipping a tire

Image by © Artiga Photo/Corbis

Because it helps with chronic fatigue and aids in circulation/heart issues, it can be inferred that L-carnitine is a natural pre-workout, in a sense.

L-carnitine provides a ton of benefits for workouts and rest.

For one, it oxidizes fatty acids, which gives you more sources of energy. (Plus it’s burning fat, a big pro for those looking to be lean and shredded).

For two, there has been extensive research to suggest “a strong correlation between muscle Carnitine and the activity of Krebs cycle, a pivotal cycle in carbohydrate metabolism.”

Potentially, L-carnitine could be an anti-catabolic agent, meaning it spares glycogen, improves energy production from fats, and lowers glycogen burning.

Another amazing function L-carnitine has is its ability to clear out lactate.

When you work out, lactic acid builds up, increasing the acidity of your blood and tissues.

This results with more fatigue, longer recovery periods needed, and a decrease in ATP production.

From what you can see in the above section, L-carnitine helps with ATP production and actually lessens the amount of lactic acid buildup during a workout.

When there’s less lactic acid in your blood and tissues, your performance skyrockets without getting incredibly sore and knocked out for half a week.

What Is Carnitine Deficiency?

This is an interesting dilemma…

L-carnitine deficiency is when you can’t metabolize that particular amino acid.

This is a serious disorder, because “muscle metabolism is impaired, causing myopathy, hypoglycemia, or cardiomyopathy.”

There are various reasons why you would have such a deficiency, including inadequate intake, enzyme deficiencies, mitochondrial impairment, or increased requirements for more carnitine when ketosis is present.

So, if you follow a ketogenic diet, you may be at risk for this deficiency.

Most of the reasons are sparse and uncommon; therefore, you can figure out whether you have it or not from the symptoms.

The tricky thing with this issue is that the symptoms and the age at which you experience these symptoms result from the cause, such as those listed above.

Nevertheless, normal symptoms are muscle necrosis (death of muscle cells), myoglobinuria (presence of myoglobin – a reserve of oxygen – in urine), hypoglycemia, fatty liver, muscle aches, fatigue, confusion, and a few types of myopathy (when your muscles don’t function properly).

A long list, considering you never know at what age you’ll get one or more of these if indeed you have a carnitine deficiency.

One way to clear yourself of such a disease is by avoiding fasting of any kind and all strenuous exercise. Another is to supplement your diet with more carnitine or eat more carnitine-rich foods.

What Foods Have L-Carnitine in Them?

foods that contain l-carnitine

You’re gonna love this.

The foods that contain a decent amount of L-carnitine are the foods everybody craves and enjoys.

Red meat, beef, pork, fish, and chicken are all excellent sources of L-carnitine; however, if you consume these too often, the amount of L-carnitine you’ll be ingesting will be overkill.

Literally: Your body also creates TMA when L-carnitine is present in the body, which has been linked to plaque buildup in arteries.

That’s why people associate red meat and other processed meats with heart disease and blood clots.

Dairy is another top choice for getting your L-carnitine, but milk and cheese also have their problems with people’s guts. Your gut health plays an important role in the digestion of this amino acid.

For vegetarians and vegans, if they suddenly consume a bunch of foods with high amounts of L-carnitine, their gut biome defends against plaque buildup.

The same cannot be said for omnivores, especially those with a high meat and dairy diet.

So what’s the solution? You want to safely increase your L-carnitine for performance purposes, but you want to steer clear of the nasty side results.

The best things are to treat your gut well. Take a probiotic, choose plant protein sources that remove toxins with their high fiber, and have an alkaline gut environment by eating leafy greens and lemons.

These are especially important if you want to take an L-carnitine supplement.

How Much L-Carnitine Should You Take Daily?

The recommended dose depends on your age, weight, and condition.

The normal range is between 500 and 2,000 mg per day. That’s what is needed for a regular guy or gal doing their day-to-day thing.

But for those who have a condition, a deficiency, or want to increase exercise performance, the number could be slightly higher.

But, as HealthLine says, “Based on a review of the research, up to 2,000 mg (2 grams) per day seems safe for long-term use and an effective dose for most forms of L-carnitine.”

So that’s what you should aim for: 2 grams daily.

When should you take L-carnitine?

The answer to this one is identical to the others in that it varies.

Everything comes into play when talking about L-carnitine. For supplement timing, the biggest factor is your personal goals.

Obviously, what we’re looking for is maximum absorption of L-carnitine.

In order to achieve this, pair your L-carnitine supplement with an insulin-raising supplement or meal. The easiest is to ingest it with your lunch or dinner.

As for goal-oriented timing, if your primary efforts are for fat loss, take L-carnitine with your biggest meal of the day.

If your goal is muscle growth, recovery, or performance, be sure to take L-carnitine before and after your workout, coupled with insulin-secreting carbs.

Again, the reason for eating insulin-spiking foods with the L-carnitine supplement is because the insulin will make sure the carnitine is saturated in muscle cells, where it can provide the most bang for your buck.

How Long Does It Take For L-Carnitine To Work?

The cool thing about L-carnitine is that it’s blazing fast. It starts working as soon as it enters the bloodstream, which takes between 15 minutes and half an hour.

Another added benefit is the increase in mental clarity and alertness within the same time frame.

For long-term effects, you can expect to see results within a few weeks. This also depends on where you’re starting at physically.

But if you stick with supplementation, you should see either performance, muscle, or fat changes fairly quickly.

Which is Better: L-Carnitine or Acetyl L-Carnitine?

Two forms of the same amino acid, but they act differently.

L-carnitine’s main function is to aid in converting fat to energy. Acetyl L-carnitine is actually the processed version of L-carnitine that bypasses the blood-brain barrier.

What this does is it gets to the brain faster, allowing the acetyl L-carnitine to energize the brain, give nerve support, and provides a substrate for the synthesis of something called “acetylcholine.”

Acetylcholine is “a primary neurotransmitter in the brain.”

In summary, L-carnitine burns fat and provides energy for building muscle and improving performance, and acetyl L-carnitine helps with cognitive function and mental alertness.

So, in accordance with your goals, you might be looking for one or the other. You can take both, but take it at different times in the day.

The great thing is that acetyl L-carnitine does everything its regular counterpart does, with the bonus of improved brain function.

To put it simply, you want the acetyl L-carnitine.

Liquid vs. Pills

This is actually a commonly debated competition: Which is better, liquid L-carnitine or L-carnitine pills?

Other than personal preference, the clear winner is liquid. :

  1. Cost: You get more dosages with liquid and it costs a lot less than capsules.
  2. Dosage: Turns out, if you go with the liquid form, it provides the correct amount, or at least the minimum. In pill form, the dosage consists of more pills.
  3. Taste: The liquid L-carnitine tastes good and isn’t a hassle. Would you want to drink a good-tasting liquid or swallow six pills?

The biggest of the three is cost. If you have to take a handful of pills that cost you considerably more than a single dosage of liquid-form L-carnitine, and they’re already spendier to begin with, it isn’t that hard of a decision to make. Plus, it really is more convenient.

Top L-Carnitine Reviews

Evlution Nutrition Carnitine500

First on our list of the best L-carnitine supplements is Evlution’s 500-mg serving capsules.

With no added stimulants, this is pure L-carnitine; Evlution claims that these pills “support fat loss by converting stored body fat into energy while supporting workout performance and recovery.”

The L-carnitine in this supplement is actually L-carnitine Tartrate, the supplement form of L-carnitine.

The bottle instructs to take 1 capsule 1-3 times daily, and to do so between meals, before workouts, or immediately after workouts.

A simple, capsule-form L-carnitine, you can’t go wrong with Evlution Nutrition.

BulkSupplements Pure Acetyl L-Carnitine

This L-carnitine supplement, provided by BulkSupplements, is in fact a powder you mix with water.

This brings comparisons to pre-workout powders. Their dosage is also 500-mg, which is about a ⅙th teaspoon.

This is pure acetyl L-carnitine, and has been tested to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier for improved mental function.

Because there’s zero fillers or preservatives, the powder is tasteless, which makes it weird to throw it in water and chug.

But if you can manage the taste – or lack thereof – it’s not a bad way to take L-carnitine.

The best feature of this type of supplementation is the price: At $0.04-$0.09 per gram, it’s fairly inexpensive, and it comes in bulk amounts.

If you enjoy taking your supplements as a powder in water, BulkSupplements is the top choice.

Acetyl L-Carnitine

Another acetyl supplement, this capsule comes from the company We Like Vitamins.

With a serving size of 1,000-mg (by taking 2 pills), the value is there with a 100-day supply at 9 cents per pill.

Again, this is straight up acetyl L-carnitine, with no added preservatives, fillers, you name it.

This is a high-potent dose at 1,000-mg. The nice thing about this brand is they give a 100% money-back guarantee.

That way, if you don’t start seeing results, no harm no fowl on your wallet.

For a safe, high-potent, pure pill, We Like Vitamin’s acetyl L-carnitine is an awesome option.

Evlution Nutrition Liquid Carnitine 500

The lone liquid L-carnitine on this list, we’re going back to the ever-effective Evlution Nutrition brand.

As the earlier section said, liquid L-carnitine proves to be fairly inexpensive at $15 per bottle with 93 servings.

However, with it being liquid, there are some other ingredients in the mix, including water, sucralose, citric acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and acesulfame potassium (those last three are food preservatives and a calorie-free sweetener).

Still, it’s a stimulant-free liquid form of L-carnitine, and Evlution provides optimum carnitine in this product.

With natural berry flavor, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium, the taste should be sweet.

If you aren’t a fan of downing a dose straight, you can always mix it in more water to dumb down the flavor.

If you’re somebody who likes their supplements fast, easy, and tasting great, this supplement is the way to go!

Wrap Up

L-carnitine is an awesome tool to be used within the scope of your workout routine.

Of course, diet and exercise are top dogs for your overall fitness.

Then, at the top of the physique pyramid, you have supplements.

However, if you’re at the point where your performance and physique goals need that little extra boost, L-carnitine is a tremendous supplement.

When an amino acid takes your stored body fat and burns it as clean energy, you can’t go wrong.

Make sure to do your due diligence, research, and find out what L-carnitine supplement is right for you.

Turn your fitness sundae up a notch. Add that L-carnitine cherry!

Want To Build Athletic Muscle? Try These Exercises...

Join our 1,500+ subscribers 

Free Download

Build Athletic Muscle...